On one hand, silencing people for "inciting unrest" does sound like something a dystopian judge would say before passing sentence. On the other, there is a philosophical argument—and economic incentive—for Twitter to protect its users from harassment and targeted manipulation, especially when it is state-sponsored.
Where the line gets drawn for these definitions seems to be the hardest part.
> Saudi Arabia’s state-run media apparatus were found to be “engaged in coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government.”
If these are individuals voicing opinions and not inciting violence, I think they are wrong. People should be able to have disagreeable opinions, even illegal opinions (“pot should be legal”), “the minister in an asshole”. People should not be guilty of wrongthink.
I think I missed the part where twitter has control over what opinions people are able to have. How ever did we every have any opinions before 2006?
There are historic tweets from senior people at Twitter which today would get banned.
As an example, if I were to the r-word, I could get the hammer, depending if it’s noticed or not. I do not use the r-word. I think it’s in poor taste and reflects badly on one’s upbringing to use it, but yet I think in addition to being vernacular, we should not ban people for using “bad” words, of for this word to consider it hateful (at least in most contexts).
Facebook and Twitter may own their own platforms, but the collective value given to them by society and their ability to distribute ideas and change opinions globally should be deeply troubling and of great concern.
It can even be said large platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and even stores like Amazon are kinda their own States in some ways. They have governance. They have voters (shareholders). They have policy and negotiate policy with other governments via lobbies, and they can control what people see and persuade how people think.
Hardly; states have rule of force.
A sentence from the beginning of the article:
> Today’s removals mark nearly one year of Twitter’s efforts to identify and remove accounts that are spreading political misinformation for the purposes of changing public sentiment — something that has wide-ranging impact beyond simply being annoyed on social media, including not least democratic processes like voting in elections or referendums.
The list of countries later is also hard to miss.
The person you're responding to didn't say anything about bots. These are state-funded efforts to manipulate the platform.
It's not about suppressing controversial opinions, it's about keeping what is fundamentally a site most people use for entertainment, entertaining, instead of a battleground for those with the most extreme opinions on the internet.
Twitter have been incredibly permissive with they allow compared to Facebook and Reddit up until now.
It’s really trying to mould behavior otherwise allowed in public. We accept this opinion but not that opinion or language.
What you are saying is basically like saying: "We've sued the companies for polluting the river, but we have no intention of cleaning the pollutants."
On the one hand, speech is a fundamental of any kind of improvement. Without speech that challenges the status quo, the status quo is all you get. Sure, you avoid lies and discomfort, but you are stuck with the discomfort you have. (and, importantly, the discomfort others suffer out of proportion with yourself). Heck, how can one even speak out against free speech without relying on it? It seems like the ultimate winning argument.
On the other hand, the idea that we are all active, rational beings that are well positioned to understand when we are being deceived is actively false. Not only is this NOT true for most everyone, it is also basically impossible - there is far too much to learn if we try to verify even "simple" assertions. We must end up trusting other parties to do some evaluation (and we can only do cursory evaluations of trustworthiness for the exact same reasons). Any effort to be well informed and rational must be built on a foundation of trusting the well informed and rational behavior of others, and that's before even considering whether any behavior is HONEST.
The concept of the First Amendment in the US constitution is about barring govt interference in speech. I dont believe that is the same as supporting uninhibited speech - the system breaks down if all speech is treated equally. We rely on social pressures to silence
(Or reduce the volume of) bad voices. "Fine", the observer says "being considered an asshole unworthy of listening to is a perfectly fine result. Free speech doesnt mean freedom from consequences".
Yet we have propped up the idea that speech should NOT be silenced. The above comment is talking about the actions of a private company, not the govt. It is saying "people should support the voices of others at at least a minimum level (refusing to silence), and if they do not do so our voices should speak up against THEM".
Where is our ability, be that as individuals that might be part of companies, or as members theoretically responsible for the govt and definitely living in the society that the govt supports, to silence poisonous voices? How can we recognize that speech, even uncomfortable speech, is a vital need for progress, without giving power to those elements that will happily and dishonestly abuse the system we create in ways that harm that system (and a lot of people?) Must we continue to empower the sociopaths and those utterly without empathy because we fear anything less is harmful?
I don't know the answer, but I'm a lot less confident that pegging the gauge at "all speech without limit" is truly the best answer. A test I like to give to any theoretical solution is "would this have been used against what I consider GOOD dislikes speech?" (abolitionism, womens suffrage, civil rights, marriage equality, etc). A lot fails this test...yet I find that historically those efforts faced a lot of problems. Hell, we dont have gender or racial equality today despite all the time we've talked about it, and a lot of people have suffered, at varying levels of misfortune, trauma, mutilation, and death. To point at this "progress" and say "yes, this is the best way to achieve improvement" seems short-sighted. We should be wary of inducing an oppressive society, but not every slope HAS to be a slippery slope.
The fact that we currently live in an age in which access to well formed, well researched arguments to the contrary of any viewpoint are abundant and freely available, yet extremism is on the rise, demonstrates that letting bad ideas spread and simply expecting rational counter-arguments to kill them does not work. The extremists are well aware of views to the contrary, and couldn't care less. Checkmate atheists, as it were.
I'm personally starting to be sold on the Paradox of Tolerance, and the premise that for free speech to be protected, some speech must be limited:
In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always
suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter
them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion,
suppression would certainly be unwise.
But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force;
for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level
of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their
followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them
to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim,
in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
In other words, the marketplace of ideas doesn't work unless there are consequences for selling snake-oil and poison.
The sentence “Fomenting political discord” sounds a lot like 1984.
Ignorance is strength?
America isn't propaganda-free, of course, but there's enough competing/conflicting propaganda that things kind-of balance out. (Or at least historically they did; increased silo-ing is reducing exposure to conflicting opinions even here).
Opening the platform to countries like Saudi Arabia and China brings fully-functional propaganda operations into the global mix, for which there is no existing competition. Nobody really knows what to do about it.
as defined by the board of Twitter, Inc.? I stand by my "ignorance" then.
Am I understanding the implications of your post correctly?
I think is pretty directly relevant to your "question"?
So unless we deal with the problem of Coca Cola being on twitter we can't deal with state sponsored bots?
Your question seems insincere and merely aimed at morally confusing the issue to no useful purpose.
And we're not even trying to 'deal with the problem of Coca Cola being on Twitter'. The whole raison d'etre for Twitter's existence is dissemination of paid propaganda by corporate actors. It's what keeps the lights on at Twitter! Ads, promoted tweets, and other forms of paid speech.
It's a critical part of being a discerning person to be able to BOTH say how things are similar and how they differ.
You seem to have no test for discerning how Coca Cola and the Russian government differ.
Actually, now that I think about it - one key difference is that shitty sugary drinks have killed more Americans then the Russian government did.
Another is that corporations buying candidates, by virtue of sponsoring their political campaigns have done more to undermine, subvert, and corrupt democracy than the Kremlin could ever dream of. You say the Russians have improperly 'influenced' elections? China astroturfs their global image? Please contrast that to to both the effort expended by, and the rewards gained by the fossil fuel industry, in 'influencing' elections, and astroturfing its global image.
Everyone's getting their knickers in a twist because some Trump staffer had some meetings with the Russian government - yet half the politicans in Washington are regurgitating talking points straight from a corporate press release.
But I suppose propaganda from the former is kosher, because they have a clear profit motive for it, eh?
The difference is agency. The people that chose to drink those drinks were able to make that decision, not helpless to some corporation.
You don't get to choose not to be assassinated by a Russian agent.
I also don't have any choice in whether or not I personally get to deal with the negative social impacts of overconsumption of sugary drinks, overextraction of fossil fuels, or politicians bought by the healthcare cartels. I have to live with all of it.
Sounds fine to me. Overreaction much?
Besides "encouraging unrest in politically sensitive climates" is BS statement in itself. They kicked out 200k Chinese accounts, 5k from UAE, 4k from Russia ... so these are "politically sensitive climates" according tho whose political narrative and objectives? I'm sure Chinese definition of "sensitive climates" fits different countries.
Bottom line is, Twitter is a private business and now they play geopolitics (or aid their player of choice, choose whichever you like)
This kind of surface-level similarity doesn't necessarily mean much, but I still think it's a bit disturbing. Twitter have a lot of power to censor, and I'm not sure why anyone would trust them to reliably use it wisely.
"encouraging unrest in politically sensitive climates" - La Résistance in Vichy France would fall under this. In some countries asking for fair and democratic elections would fall under this.
More or less.
> Will you always?
Hard to say. I can at least see the possibility that the answer is no.
> Like other similar happenings, the side you agree with may not always be the side making the choices.
The side that's in favor of keeping foreign agitprop off of the site is a side that I'm likely to continue to agree with. It's not like the actors being blocked are good-faith "valid counter voices". They are illegitimate because of their methodology, not because of their viewpoint. (An organized campaign of people lying about who they're working for, trying to advocate positions that they don't actually believe, in order to mess with the minds of voters of another country... yeah, let's block that, no matter which viewpoint they've chosen to "advocate".)
Could Twitter move on to viewpoint blocking? Yes, they could. Would I have a problem with it if they did? Absolutely.
Disclaimer: I don't actually use Twitter, and I may not know what I'm talking about.
Isn't this the way many dictators describe democracy movements? How do we know if it's one or the other? Twitter is not a government, you can't submit a freedom of information request, we don't know what methodology they've used.
Twitter isn't a government agency, but a private corporation protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. They have the right to reject any content you contribute without being liable for any user-generated content they publish.
That means they don't owe you a platform. Likewise, you owe them nothing, so why tolerate Twitter's continued existence? Just open up /etc/hosts and set twitter.com's IP to "0.0.0.0". Problem solved.
This being the case, I don't see any reason why ISPs be permitted to say that individuals should not be allowed to run internet-accessible websites or gopher holes out of their homes. I think enacting reasonable legislation to force ISPs to allow residential customers to use their service to publish content as well as consume it will create a richer and more robust internet.
Now, if you still find the notion of forcing corporations to do things objectionable, it might help to remember that corporations are not human beings. They have no inherent rights, only powers defined by law. They are like governments in that regard.
You have the right to run a business and work for a profit. You do not have the right to do so from behind the aegis of a LLC. That is a privilege.
I am 100% sure that if youtube started to reject all content from Muslims then they would get hit by a discrimination law suit and end up in court over it. The argument would be that google, youtube server, or the user is located in a physical place with anti-discrimination laws, and based on that users has rights.
"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
How a conflict between Section 230 and hypothetical anti-discrimination laws barring a social networking from imposing a blanket ban on right-wing content should be adjudicated is way above my pay grade since I'm not a judge, let alone a lawyer.
The prosecutor and later the court judgment cited a different law, one which was created in order to give the police the power to seize biker bars from organized crime. They argued that the website, just like a biker bar, allowed for "primarily" illegal activity and thus made the founder liable for operating it and gives the police the power to seize it in order to stop further crime.
Even if twitter, google or any other private operated website is not treated as the publisher or speaker, the operators can still be charged under any law that do not distinguish on the accused being the publisher or speaker.
I was downvoted before for suggesting that DDoS protection would constitute a limit on free speech, so clearly this community feels that DDoS protection is a "good" thing.
I think we can all agree that human attention span is a limited resource, much like network bandwidth.
If we make a simple analogy between network bandwidth and human attention span, then how is an automated bot (or army of humans) sending out mass propaganda to overload your attention any different than an automated bot transmitting junk data to overload your network bandwidth? Why would you control one but not the other?
Parent said "protected by freedom of speech", though, which in this context sounds like they're suggesting that Twitter should be compelled by law to host it.
I’ve had government officials ignore emails but respond to tweets (as someone who no longer uses Twitter, this is now quite frustrating).
At some point Twitter can no longer hide behind the “private entity” flag. A line gets crossed and even if there’s not technically a legal standing for freedom of speech on a platform like Twitter, there’s a ideological debate to be had whether it now should be. Certainly a decade ago much of the idealism sold to us around social media was that it was an equalizing force for free speech and communication.
That’s fair, and I’m up for that ideological debate (although my position would still be that Twitter shouldn’t feel obligated to disseminate speech it doesn’t want to). But the parent was arguing that the legal standing should be created.
> Certainly a decade ago much of the idealism sold to us around social media was that it was an equalizing force for free speech and communication.
There are actors with the resources of nation-states wielding hundreds of thousands of fake accounts to run massive propaganda campaigns… and your position is that allowing that is the way to make social media an equalizing force?
It would be reasonable to ban companies who act as "platforms" from any sort of editorial discretion. NYT should be able to decide what to publish, but not Twitter.
Typically it goes...
Trump: CONGRATULATIONS ON FIREFIGHTERS FOR MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. THIS ADMINISTRATION IS FOR FIREFIGHTERS!
Followed by 1k responses of YAY TRUMP! and 50k responses of people vomiting up any old thing that's just as insulting as they can cook up. Why on Earth do people waste their time on this sort of thing? It has evolved from keyboard warriorhood to some sort of internet Tourette's.
/end old man rant.
Because the President of the United States has decided that shitposting on Twitter shall be his primary means of communicating with the people, and the courts have decided this means he's not allowed to block anyone from his feed, because the people have a right to hear their governments' words and to petition it with grievances.
What's happening on Twitter is the platform being used as intended by everyone but Trump - it's not supposed to be used for deep, nuanced, complex discussion. It's for posting links and blogging about your food - nonsense that can fit into a couple of sentences. But thanks to him elevating it to a higher status than it deserves, it's now become the nexus for American political communication and debate with this administration.
only way to protect these fools from "fake news" is to filter everything through the pure and blameless mouths of demographically-targeted, perfect-haired multimillionaires reading teleprompters. it is the only way!
in light of this glorious victory--thank you Lord Jesus!--we are only a few years away from setting things right.
We get techies who read satire literally and get upset when told that the sonic boom they just heard was the point getting ready to skip past light speed and ridiculous speed in favor of going to plaid.
If I fail to maintain decorum, use the downvote button. That's apparently why HN has one.
They are rather subjective, and arbitrarily enforced. I'm a nerd, not a mind-reader!
You can be punished for breaking the rules after the fact, but that isn't the same as being obligated to obey them.